Do brooding hens need to be isolated?

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7 Years
Dec 31, 2012
I have three hens that are broody. I have 12 hens total. Never had one go broody in three years but now I have three. I think it's because of the second rooster I got late last year. All three broody hens are game hens. I decided to let one sit on 5 eggs. I have an enclosed nesting area that used to be a coop for some bantams. It has 3 boxes and 2 buckets. Anyway, I put the nesting boxes in there because the nesting boxes I had (they were given to me) were outside and I didn't like that. The hens would go on long dry spells where they would not lay much and I thought it was because the boxes were outside. They had a roof over them but still it was outside.

When I put the boxes inside I only kept 3 because of the number of eggs I was getting. Now this year the hens are laying like crazy so with 3 hens sitting in the nest boxes it started to get crowded in there. The one hen I let sit was doing OK. I would take the eggs from the other two thinking they would eventually give up but after two weeks they still want to sit.

I moved the hen with the 5 eggs to one of the buckets I have. NO ONE ever goes in the buckets. I don't know why. They are white. Maybe the color affects them It's odd. Anyway, when I moved the hen and her eggs over to the bucket they others started laying in bucket next to her. I did not see any of the others try to get in the bucket with her and I would check to make sure no new eggs were in there. I thought all was well until today when I get home and see she has left the bucket and her two week old eggs and moved back to another nest box where she was sitting on two new eggs. The last time I checked on her was late yesterday afternoon so who knows how long the eggs were without heat. I took them and cracked them open. The first two were not very developed. The other three were well on their way and two of the chicks were alive. It completely shocked me. I was taken back by the first one kicking and moving around. Horrific.

Anyway, the only thing I can think of is she came down to eat/poop and someone jumped on her eggs and she decided to sit somewhere else. Have no idea why should abandon them and move to another box to continue sitting.

I'm going to buy some nest boxes at TSC put them outside, gather up some fresh laid eggs, put them under one of the broody hens, close off the nest house and let her be alone until they hatch. The others can lay outside in the new nest boxes.

What do you guys think? I've never done this before so I could use all the help I can get.
I isolate mine. I had one that would sit on hers for a week or two, then abandon them. I put her on the porch in a big dog kennel with food
and water and 2 of them hatched yesterday
I would definetly isolate a broody. I had one broody doing a very diligent job of sitting. I didn't know what was going on until about day 8 on the eggs..... The other hens would come in and peck her relentlessly until she woud leave the nest. They would lay their egg and leave. The broody got confused about which nest was hers. I isolated her and things were SO much better, she was alot more happy being left alone and having privacy. After sitting for 28 days I took the eggs and candled them, they were all quitters. I think in all the confusion and drama my eggs got cold and died.
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I find it best to isolate broodies, for several reasons. As you have seen, other hens can crowd into the nest to lay their eggs (BTW, I'd have candled those eggs - having seen hens get off for sometimes 6 or more hours, and the eggs later hatched on time. I don't think the hen "abandoned" the eggs at all, I think she just got confused.) It can get really annoying trying to figure out which eggs the broody has been incubating, and which are new. All that shuffling around can break eggs, too. Sometimes you'll get multiple hens trying to "co-brood" the same clutch of eggs, and that can really get messy!

Another reason that I like to isolate broodies, is that my chickens are savages. When the eggs start to hatch, other hens may try to steal the chicks, or do like mine have, and kill them. If a tiny chick gets separated from its mother in my barnyard, it's a goner.
Keeping the mother and her family where the other birds can't bother them keeps us all happier.
Wow Bunnylady I had no idea it could get that messy. I did candle two eggs but I didn't really see much so that is when I cracked them open. I have since seen the pic set in the incubation forum and I now know what to look for in case it happens again.

And you guys are right, I think she just got confused in all the traffic, chaos, etc. so isolation it is. Wish me luck.

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